Georgina von Etzdorf samples

Scope and Content

The collection includes product specifications, catalogues, reports, order acknowledgements, promotional material, invitations and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

The design house Georgina von Etzdorf (GvE) was founded in 1981 by three friends, Georgina von Etzdorf, Jonathan Docherty and Martin Simcock. The exhibition to celebrate the company's 25th anniversary claimed it to be 'a flexible, innovative and entirely hands on design enterprise that has made a lasting contribution to developments in international textiles and fashion'.

Georgina and Martin met when students of textile design at Camberwell School of Art, and dreamed of setting up 'a different kind of design company'. After graduation, Georgina worked in design studios, but was told that her slow artistic approach was inappropriate in a commercial world. Martin went travelling with Jonathan, a friend from school days who had studied industrial design at Central School of Art, and later they set up a silk screen printing workshop in Georgina's parents' garage. Georgina continued the printing while Martin completed his tour, and on 1 February 1981 the three friends formed the company, despite a lack of commercial interest in Georgina's designs.

No commercial printer could undertake the printing of the designs, which forced the partners into their own small-scale batch production of fabric, beginning in 1983 in a converted barn near Salisbury. Some designs were sold to fashion designers, but the company had more success selling the finished ties and scarves.

In 1984 GvE exhibited at the autumn London designer shows, and by 1985, had produced its first clothing collections, written up in the influential American trade journal 'Women's Wear Daily'. The designs were printed on a range of fabrics from chiffon and organza to mohair and velvet, and the company became known for sumptuous sensuality. In 1987 their design 'Solomon' appeared in their first printed furniture collection.

The company's first London shop opened in 1986 in Burlington Arcade, and by 1996 they had two London shops, a concession in Selfridges, a 'shop within a shop' in Barney's, New York, and were selling to 400 other shops in 25 countries, with agents in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

As GvE extended its range, it entered into an increasing range of collaborations, including hats with Gabriella Ligenza, shoes with Emma Hope, furniture for Milne Studio, designs for their first rug collection for Christopher Farr in 1998, and the Caracol rug for the Rug Company. One of the most important of these collaborations was with Belford Prints, founded in Bollington, Cheshire, in 1985. With Trish Belford they revived devore and explored dye, discharge, flocking, bonding, hand painting and embossing techniques.

Working with the British fashion designer Matthew Williamson introduced GvE to hand embroidery in India and resulted in beading appearing in the 1996 spring collection. Embroidery featured in the collection the following year and they also launched a handmade couture section.

In 1997 the company launched its research and development department, encouraging the designers to experiment with innovative new materials and techniques, including fibre optic strands, metallic yarns, slate, steel washers, Perspex and the use of glue instead of stitching. The company's annual turn-over reached almost £5 million in 1998, but 'a sharp change of direction reversed the company's fortunes', and losses were incurred in 1999. The designers recycled stock, reworked for the 'Vintage and Recycled' collection, which set fashion trends for the next four years.

A stream of inventive products characterise this period, despite GvE having to 'shed staff and its hand-printing facility'. The company experimented with recycled rubber, embedded fabric in acrylic blocks, and digitally printed designs onto cloth, wood, acrylic, leather and metal. Motifs previously printed onto cloth were laser-cut and turned into neck-pieces, applied decoration, corsages and jewellery.

After 2006, the company ceased to work in fashion design, concentrating instead on licensing, lifestyle products (including food), and interior and exterior projects with architects.

Arrangement

  • GVE/1 Product specifications for Winter, 1997
  • GVE/2 'Sales books': examples of catalogues, 2004-2005
  • GVE/3 'Reports' - despatch reports, prints reports, minutes of operations meetings, etc., 1994-1999
  • GVE/4 'S2000 A-G' - Order acknowledgements and invoices, 1999-2000
  • GVE/5 Promotional postcards, 1987-2005
  • GVE/6 Foldout promotional cards, [1990s?]
  • GVE/7 'Invitation' postcards to sales at the Burlington Arcade shop, 1998-2003
  • GVE/8 'Invitation' postcards to sales at Odstock, [1998]-2001
  • GVE/9 Foldout promotional cards for sales, 1993, 2005
  • GVE/10 Gift voucher, [c.2000?]
  • GVE/11 Headed Notepaper, [c.2000?]
  • GVE/12 'Wiltshire View', bearing article 'At home with Georgina von Etzdorf', March 2004
  • GVE/13 Photographs, [1990s-2006]

Access Information

The archival material may be viewed by appointment only.

Note

This entry was compiled by Greta Bertram, Crafts Study Centre Curator, June 2020.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.

Accruals

None expected.